Every Night

We do the same thing. Toddlers like that – the routine, the consistency, it lulls him to sleep just as much as the milk does.

First we change into pajamas, and he gets to choose between two parent-selected pairs. Then we run and climb onto The Big Bed (these days he resists our help as he huffs and clambers up – “I do it, I do it, I, I, I, I do it!” he mutters, with a new stammer of impatience and frustration in his voice these last few weeks). We climb on with him, three heads in a row on fluffy pillows. One night, we switched sides as we got onto the bed around him – Gruff on the right and I on the left – and the protests! “No! Mommy this side, Daddy this side! No Daddy on Mommy’s willow! Go, go, go, go, go, you go DERE!”

Then we sing a few songs, always Smooch’s choices. “The Alphabet Song” is in the top ten. Last night we did “Five Little Monkeys” with great exuberance for the first time. This morning he was singing “Jingle Bells” for some odd reason, so I have a feeling it will make a bedtime debut soon as well. After the songs, it’s time for prayers. About four months ago, I started saying the same prayer every night, and asking Smooch to fold his hands and close his eyes along with Daddy & I. “Dear God, thank you for Daddy, and for Mommy, and for Smooch, and for the baby.” Then I open my eyes a tiny peek and ask Smooch what else he is thankful for. The answers always make me laugh later – sometimes he is thankful for his grandparents, or his friends, but just as often he prays for the ceiling fan and his pacifier. The ways of the 2 year old mind are hard to fathom.

The last move is always the kisses and hugs. One of us parents will prompt him, and he always flies into my arms first for a big bear hug and slobbery kisses. Then he cries, “Daddy’s TURN!” and flings himself across the bed against Gruff’s solid chest. He always gives Gruff a kiss and then wipes it off his own face (why, we do not know), and then he slides off the bed. “My woom!” he usually cheers, giving out instructions as we cross the hall: fan on or off, which blanket, which stuffed animal or doll he needs to find. We tuck him in and exit. It’s a lovely routine.

And then a few nights ago, it changed. Not a big, earth-shattering change. But one that makes my mama heart both happy and sad at the same time. Gruff had said to Smooch, “Give Mommy a hug and kiss,” and Smooch said, “No.”

The next words out of his mouth took my breath away.

“Baby.”

And he pulled on the hem of my T-shirt, exposing my growing belly, and flung his arms around my gravid girth. He leaned forward and placed a tiny kiss just beside my belly button, and then sat up grinning. “Mama TURN!”

Our world is changing, and I love it, but like any change it makes me wistful for the days we’re losing.

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2 Responses to Every Night

  1. Heather says:

    I’m all choked up. My kids did that too. I remember a little M lifting my shirt just that way, and more recently K doing it to Baby D while in my belly. It’s so wonderful when they start looking out for their sibling(s) first.

  2. Mrs. Chicken says:

    It is a strange time, isn’t it? The after is also strange, most gloriously so.

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